MANILA- The government's top lawyer on Tuesday hit the Court of Appeals decision to release former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes from detention after clearing him of charges for allegedly ordering the murder of radio host and environmentalist Dr. Gerry Ortega.
In a statement, Solicitor General Jose Calida said the appellate court's decision "stinks," vowing to raise the matter to the Supreme Court.
“The CA Decision stinks. As to where the stench came from, we will investigate it,” Calida said in a statement.
“We are ready and raring to take this case all the way to the Supreme Court. There will be no miscarriage of justice under my watch,” he added.
The Court of Appeals had last week ordered the Palawan Regional Trial Court to dismiss the case against Reyes and release him due to lack of evidence linking him to Ortega's death.
Calida said he could not sustain the CA decision as the court is "clearly in the wrong" in the Ortega slay case, and insisted that there is sufficient ground to jail the former Palawan governor.
“The presence or absence of the elements of the crime is evidentiary in nature and is a matter of defense that may be passed upon after a full-blown trial on the merits,” Calida said.
“In this case, from the perspective of a reasonably discreet and prudent man, there is sufficient ground to order the arrest of Joel Reyes,” he added, noting that debating on the credibility of a witness is "not within the province of the determination of probable cause.”
Ortega was shot dead in January 2011 while shopping at a thrift store in Puerto Princesa. Prior to his death, the radio broadcaster had accused Reyes of massive corruption and linked him to alleged environmental crimes.
His family slammed the ruling and called for vigilance. Reyes, meanwhile, said the Ortegas should "respect" the rule of law.
The National Union of People's Lawyers meanwhile described the CA ruling as a "triple-whammy letdown."
"The decision to let gloating ex-Palawan Governor Joel Reyes 'miraculously' get off the hook for the killing of anti-mining advocate and journalist Gerry Ortega demonstrate a triple-whammy letdown to those who still resort to our justice system for remedies," the NUPL said in a statement.